By John Benson
Rising country artist Eric Paslay has been busy.
Sure, he’s getting ready to release his self-titled debut early next month, but last week the singer-guitarist spent the holiday weekend in Hartville (that’s Stark County) helping his girlfriend’s parents redo their bathroom.
“I just love doing stuff like that,” said Paslay, calling from Nashville. “I went up there for New Year’s and hung out. They’re selling that house and moving to an old house in Youngstown.”
Ironically, Paslay headed back to Nashville only to return to Northeast Ohio for a Saturday show at the Dusty Armadillo in Rootstown.
“My girlfriend said we’re not doing any work this weekend,” Paslay said, laughing. “We’re going to go to antique stores, and maybe a chocolate factory. But I don’t mind; I like doing handyman work.”
When it’s pointed out handyman work can be dangerous for someone who plays guitar for a living, the Texas native agreed: “I definitely watch my fingers when I’m cutting.”
For the past few years, co-writing songs that are cut as hits has been Paslay’s modus operandi, with Eli Young Band’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and Love and Theft’s “Angel Eyes” topping the charts.
Despite what one would perceive as being a pretty impressive resume in the Music City, Paslay said it’s taken a while for him to get the green light to record his debut project, which he admits he’s been writing on and off for years.
Apparently, the time was right for Paslay. His lead single, “Friday Night,” from the new album has already reached No. 6 on the country music chart.
“I just enjoy making music,” Paslay said. “The reason I do it is just to make the soundtrack of people’s lives. Just to be a little part of that is awesome to me. I’m glad that I have the gift to do that, and I’m dumb enough to actually do it for a living.”
In addition to the rocking “Friday Night,” Paslay said the new CD features high-energy tunes such as “Song About a Girl.” There’s also the poignant “Less Than Whole” and the traditional-sounding “She Don’t Love You.” The latter is described as a quintessential Nashville heartbreak song that George Jones could have cut in his heyday.
Then there’s the last track on the new album, “Deep as it is Wide,” which Paslay recorded with Sheryl Crow and Amy Grant. The spiritual track appears on Grant’s latest CD, “How Mercy Looks From Here.”
As amazing as that experience was for Paslay, what came next blew him away. In an interview, Grant said he was the up-and-coming artist that she was most excited about.
“It’s kind of wild, man,” Paslay said. “I’m still trying to figure out how all of this is happening. It feels like it’s the right time for people to hear my music and what I’ve been up to. I’m just really excited I’m getting to hang around with some really awesome people and very talented people.
“Also, I’m grateful that Amy Grant doesn’t think I suck.”